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Posts Tagged ‘School safety’

Preparation, quick thinking save school kids from gunman

Just before Thanksgiving, after killing his wife and two neighbors, a man in Northern California with a long history of violence and mental illness set out to make a bad day much, much worse.

The shooter set out for nearby Rancho Tehama Elementary School, apparently intent on continuing his killing spree. When he arrived at the school, he found doors locked and his entry blocked. He repeatedly tried to enter one classroom door, but could not get through. He shot in frustration at walls and windows, but was unable to gain access to the children and teachers locked away inside. Stray bullets seriously injured one student, but a hundred others were saved.

How was a more serious crisis averted? Authorities are crediting the quick actions of teachers, janitors and administrators.

As soon as they heard gunfire in the distance, school staff initiated a lockdown and alerted authorities. They hustled children under desks and worked to keep them calm.

The safety procedures weren’t dreamed up in the spur of the moment. According to this NPR report , nearly all schools have active shooter safety plans, and nearly two-thirds of school districts regularly conduct active shooter drills.

It’s easy to see why drills are necessary. Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, there have been 160 more school shootings.

Schools are vulnerable, but they are far from the only places vulnerable to mass shootings. This year alone, there have been 318 mass shootings in the U.S. in places ranging from businesses to outdoor festivals to churches.

What used to be nearly unthinkable now happens with numbing regularity. What should you do to prepare for an active shooter event in your facility? Here are a few simple steps:

Have a written plan in place, and communicate it. At the very least, draft procedures for an active shooter event and review with staff. Using the Run Hide Fight model, identify escape and shelter in place strategies, and review with staff.
Conduct regular safety drills. Just as with other emergencies such as tornadoes or fire, practice response with your team. Preparedness is key.

Consider adding shooter detection systems to your building systems. The Guardian system from Shooter Detection Systems automatically detects gunshots and can instantly notify authorities and trigger other responses, including text alerts, video and door locks. Quick automated actions cut down response times and save lives. This video demonstrates the basics of the system.

Interested in learning more? Register for our Live Fire event.

Trooper responds to Active Shooter Call

Getting that call is every parent’s worst nightmare: “There’s an active shooter at your child’s school.”

Imagine dropping everything you are doing, racing to your child’s school, pulling up in shock to a see of blue lights washing over the landscape, and trying to sort through the chaos to get to your child.

Now imagine a slight variation on that scenario. Instead of getting a call, you hear the call from a dispatcher over your two-way radio. You drop everything you are doing, race to your child’s school, and pull up in shock, the blue lights from your cruiser washing over the landscape.

What if you were a law enforcement officer, and you were called to respond to an active shooter incident at your child’s school? What if it was your job not only to sort through the chaos and get to your child, but to help other parents and officials make sense of the chaos, and communicate effectively?

That appears to have been the case in one of the latest school shootings. One student was killed and three others were wounded in a shooting at Freeman High School in Freeman, Wash., on Sept. 13.

Trooper Jeff Sevigny, the state patrol’s public information officer for much of Eastern Washington, was among those called to respond to the scene.
“Worst day in my LE career.  To respond to your own kids school for active shooter.  Prayers for everyone involved. #FreemanHS” Sevigney tweeted using his handle, @wspd4pio.

Sevigney has not offered further comment since the tweet.
Trauma from active shooter events isn’t limited to those who are physical victims of the violence. The psychological impacts run deep, for those who witnessed the violence, to friends and family members, to first responders.

Years after the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut, first reponders were still struggling to come to grips with the grief and horror of that day. 

While ample resources are available to help equip first responders administer psychological first aid, resources aimed at helping first responders recover is harder to find.

First responders who are struggling with sleep problems, difficulty focusing, recurring thoughts, anxiety, numbness, or abuse of substances should seek out help from a professional counselor trained to treat trauma.

Safety training doesn’t matter, until suddenly it does

For Marisa Eckberg, it was just a typical day in the office.

Until suddenly, it wasn’t.

Eckberg, an associate with a Dallas-area HR Managed Services company, was conducting training for a client when the president of that client company interrupted her work to deliver alarming news. Shots had been fired in their high-rise office building, and they needed to respond quickly to keep themselves and their team members safe.

Despite her fear, Eckberg calmly took action. She began directing the employees into a dark supply room, and directed them to close, lock, and barricade the door with a filing cabinet. She instructed them to turn the lights off and remain silent and set phones to “do not disturb.”

How did Eckberg remain calm, and know exactly what to do? Just six weeks before, she attended Active Shooter training hosted by her company. She learned the “run, hide, fight” protocol, and knew her office’s emergency procedures and her responsibilities as a leader to keep her employees safe. She was able to utilize those in her client’s building.

“It was definitely a scary situation, and one I would never want anyone to have to go through, but had my company not conducted active shooter training just a few weeks prior, I would have been that much more terrified and unable to offer any kind of help to those around me,” said Eckberg in a blog post recounting the experience.

It might be tempting not to take safety and emergency training seriously, but in a crisis such training is crucial. What can you do to ensure safety and emergency training is an important part of your organizational culture? Start with the following steps:

Review your safety and emergency training policies and procedures, and make sure they are complete and up to date. Include procedures for fires, natural disasters and other common emergencies. Review policies at least annually.

Schedule safety and emergency training regularly and require attendance for every employee and regular volunteer. Move beyond classroom presentations to drills where participants walk through procedures.

Inspect safety and emergency systems regularly. Fire detection and suppression systems, video surveillance systems, alarm systems and all other systems require routine maintenance and inspection to ensure they are functioning properly. Be sure you’ve documented any changes or updates to systems, too, and ensure they are working properly.

Look for gaps in safety and emergency systems and considering adding additional capabilities. Gunshot detection systems are a fairly new entry to the market. Much as a smoke or fire detection system automatically alerts building occupants to potential danger, gunshot detection systems automatically alert and respond to shots fired in a facility.
Learn more about our Guardian active shooter detection systems at an upcoming Live Fire event.

Summer time is prime time for school maintenance

Summer break is just weeks away, and teachers and students are both looking forward to an extended break.

Not so for building maintenance personnel. Summer is the time to catch up on cleaning and maintenance projects that had to be put off during the school year. Their hard work will pay off; studies indicate that well-maintained facilities have a positive impact on student achievement.

On the agenda for many schools:

Floor maintenance. Floors take a beating during the school year, and now is the time to clean and protect them in preparation for next year. Furniture can be moved out of the way and products can be applied with proper drying time.

Window maintenance. Windows do more than let the sunshine in. They also aid in scientific exploration, showcase art, and serve as the starting line for day dreams. All of those activities lead to everything from smudges to cracks and defects. Windows can be thoroughly cleaned and replaced during summer months.

Deep cleaning surfaces. Tabletops, counters and bathroom surfaces get wiped down during the year, but summer is the time to do the job more thoroughly.

But summer is also a good time to address larger system needs, too. School maintenance personnel should take the opportunity to inspect, clean and review:

HVAC systems. Filters and ducts should be inspected, updated and cleaned. Systems should be evaluated to ensure they are operating at peak efficiency.

Fire safety and emergency alert systems. Equipment and systems should be inspected and tested.

Security systems. Worn or outdated equipment should be replaced. Camera placement should be evaluated and adjusted, if necessary.

School staff should also take the opportunity to revisit emergency plans, too, particularly if the facility is has made significant changes, such as room reconfigurations, additions or other building projects. Summer is also a good time to investigate adding new systems and processes.

Well-maintained systems are key to building maintenance, and important for the development, health and safety of students and staff.

We’re always happy to discuss how our solutions can help. Connect with us at the Kentucky School Plant Management Association conference and workshops Oct. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington or call us at (502) 632-4322 to discuss your needs.

How can a parent know if their child poses a risk?

Another school shooting tragedy was avoided this week, thanks to alert parents.

The father of Nichole Cevario, 18, alerted officials at Catoctic High School in Thurmont, Maryland that he suspected his daughter was plotting violence towards the school. She was immediately removed from class, and a search of the Cevario’s home yielded a shotgun and bomb-making materials. Investigators also turned up a journal featuring detailed plans for a plot to carry out a mass shooting.
It’s not the first time in recent memory that parents have foiled a school shooting attempt.
In December, parents in Utah noticed their 15-year-old’s behavior was off. After noting that guns were missing from their home, they raced to his school and disarmed him just moments after he fired the first shot in his classroom.
How can parents know when a child’s behavior is truly threatening? Sandy Hook Promise, a group founded and led by families of those killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, have launched a campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the signs that someone may be at risk of committing an act of gun violence.
According to the group’s Know the Signs guide, signals that someone is at risk of hurting themselves or others may include:
1. A strong fascination with firearms or acts of mass violence.
2. Aggressive behavior triggered for seemingly minor reasons.
3. A sudden change in academic performance or aspirations for the future.
4. Real or perceived feelings that they are picked on or persecuted by others, and isolation from others.
5. Unsupervised or illegal access to firearms.
6. Overt threats of violence, which may be verbal, written, pictures or videos. Eighty percent of school shooters told someone of their plans ahead of time.
Parents, other family members, friends or teachers should share their concerns with school officials and police immediately, as did the parents of the teens in the Utah and Maryland incidents. At the very least, reporting concerns could lead to help for the teen, and at best, could avert a horrible tragedy.

Now is the time to plan an active shooter preparedness drill

Has your organization staged an active shooter preparedness drill? If the answer is no, you are not alone.

According to a recent story in HR Daily Advisor, most companies have not. Despite strong perceptions that an active shooter incident is a top threat, 79 percent of those surveyed don’t fee adequately prepared for such a scenario, and 61 percent have never conducted an active shooter preparedness drill.
In additional, 44 percent don’t have a plan to communicate and escalate alerts.
Need to get your active shooter preparedness efforts off the ground? Take these steps:
Bring stakeholders to the table
Stakeholders will vary based on context, but consider including facility managers, security personnel, local law enforcement and other first responders, employees with significant contact with the public. Each will bring a different, valuable perspective.
Research resources
The Department of Homeland Security has developed education materials including a video, pamphlets and posters aimed at educating the public about what to do in an active shooter situation. Click here for details.
Assessment and education is also available from ECT Services. Contact James Burton at 502.632.4322 or email sales@ectservices.com.
Enhance systems
Consider adding an active shooter detection system to your facility. The award-winning Guardian Shooter Detection System significantly reduces response time by automatically detecting when shots are fired, then instantly reporting the activity to authorities and alerting people in the area.
Interested in learning more? Register for a Live Fire Event to see the system in action.
Get it in writing
Just as will all other emergency policies and procedures, your plan should be written, distributed to all appropriate personnel, and reviewed and updated regularly.
Practice makes perfect
Coordinate with local law enforcement and first responders to conduct an active shooter drill. Communicate to participants and the public when and where the drill will take place, and what they can expect. Surprises drills can set off panic and lead to public safety issues.

New movies raise questions about school shootings

Two very different retellings of two different campus shootings are making the rounds.
Tower tells the story of the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting, considered by most to be the first campus mass shooting in U.S. history. The movie combines historic footage and rotoscopic animation, all narrated by first person testimonies.

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The second movie, I Am Not Ashamed, tells the story of Rachel Joy Scott, one of the first victims of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. You can view the trailer here.
Both events had significant cultural impacts, and sparked significant discussion. Both of these films may prompt movie goers to ask, what has changed since these events?
One thing that hasn’t changed: school shootings haven’t stopped. Scores of shootings have followed, some with just a few victims, and some with dozens.
Communities have tried to formulate some sort of response. One approach has been focusing on prevention. Parents, educators, lawmakers and other leaders have taken measures to address bullying, mental illness, gun safety and gun control.
Another approach is improving response. The Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies are hoping to make “Run, hide, fight” as well known as “Stop, drop, roll.”
Some experts are also proposing that schools install gunshot detection systems.
“The shocking reality is that there appears to be no identifiable pattern or procedure in the selection of victims during an active shooter situation, making it extremely difficult to prepare for and defend against,” said Richard Brent, a member of the Board of Directors of the Security Industry Association (SIA). “Not to mention the unnerving fact that these situations evolve quickly and, many times, end with the shooter taking his or her life.”
ECT Services is pleased to offer the Guardian gunshot detection system developed by Shooter Detection Systems, which works by using acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots. The precise location of the gunshots is noted, and authorities are alerted immediately. Warnings are also instantly sent out to people in the facility and vicinity advising them to evacuate or take cover. This video demonstrates the basics of the system.

Interested in learning more? Register for our Live Fire event.

Gunshot detection systems could be key to keeping schools safe, expert says

Should schools install gunshot detection systems? A recent post on Security Info Watch makes the case.

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“The shocking reality is that there appears to be no identifiable pattern or procedure in the selection of victims during an active shooter situation, making it extremely difficult to prepare for and defend against,” said Richard Brent, who wrote the post and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Security Industry Association (SIA). “Not to mention the unnerving fact that these situations evolve quickly and, many times, end with the shooter taking his or her life.”

In his post, Brent points to gunshot detection systems as a possible solution to the problem, highlighting several key considerations:

Schools are a common target. According to a 2013 United States Department of Justice report, nearly a quarter of active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013 took place in educational settings. More fatalities tend to occur in school shootings, too.

Shortening response time is critical. Active shooter situations last an average of 12.5 minutes, and it typically takes law enforcement an average of 18 minutes to respond. Shortening response time could save lives, and gunshot detection systems like Guardian are designed to notify authorities immediately when a gunshot is detected.

Minimal maintenance and monitoring is required. Gunshot detection systems like Guardian integrate with other systems such as door locks and communication system and require little to no monitoring by security and other personnel. They don’t rely on human interpretation and response to work properly.

ECT Services is pleased to offer the Guardian gunshot detection system developed by Shooter Detection Systems, which works by using acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots. The precise location of the gunshots is noted, and authorities are alerted immediately. Warnings are also instantly sent out to people in the facility and vicinity advising them to evacuate or take cover. This video demonstrates the basics of the system.

Interested in learning more? Register for our Live Fire event.

10 college campus safety tips

Photo by beholdereye.

College students are preparing to head back to campus in a few short weeks. For many, this will be the first time living away from home and outside the watchful eye of parents or guardians. Here are ten tips for campus safety:

Keep keys secure and quickly accessible. Fumbling for keys and the bottom of a purse or backpack can leave you vulnerable for a few critical moments. Use a clip, lanyard or wristband to keep keys within easy reach at all times.

Maintain situational awareness. Always know what’s going on around you. Stay on well-lit, well-travelled walkways. Don’t text and walk, and certainly don’t text and drive.

Lock every door, every time. Lock the door to your room, suite, apartment, home and/or vehicle. Don’t prop common area doors open, and don’t forget to secure windows, too.

Get to know the campus and surrounding neighborhood. Know where emergency call stations are located. Check with local police to see what kinds of crime are reported, and where.

Buddy up. Stick with a trusted friend, especially when out and about in the evening and after dark.

Don’t share passwords to debit or credit card accounts, social media accounts or other secure accounts. Don’t reuse passwords between accounts, either.

Make sure friends, roommates and family have a copy of your schedule, so that you can be located quickly in the event of an emergency.

Don’t overshare on social media. Be cautious about posting details about where you are, and with whom. Wait until after you are safely home before posting those kinds of details.

Take a personal safety or self-defense class. Most campus safety departments or other student advocacy groups offer training – often free – through the year.

If you see something, say something. Report anything suspicious – untended bags or packages, threatening language or behavior, etc. – to security immediately.

Photo by beholdereye.

Six Safety and Security Tips for Back-to-School Success

Even though summer is still in full swing here in the Ohio Valley, school will be back in session in just a few shorts weeks and children will be heading back to class.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 9.29.25 PMMaybe you’ve already knocked out the back to school shopping and are gently encouraging your offspring to please, please, please (finally!) wrap up that summer reading project, but have you given thought to back to school safety and security? Here are a few tips to get you started:

Keep an eye on kids’ social media accounts. A new year may mean new friendships, and it may also mean the demise of old friendships. Be on the lookout for bullying or other unhealthy behaviors, and know your schools’ policy on social media use. Your school counselor might be a good resource.

If your children walk or bike to school, review the rules of the road with them. Helmets should be required for biking. And that Squirtle is just going to have to get away — discourage the use of earbuds or playing games on handheld devices while walking to minimize distractions.

Get to know your schools’ emergency procedures, and review them with your child. Be aware of schools’ security policies, and be sure to follow them.

Volunteer. The presence of responsible, caring adults can go a long way towards decreasing bullying incidents, and increasing children’s sense of security.

Keep the lines of communication open. Make sure all of your contact information is complete and up to date, and talk with counselors about any changes your child is navigating or any concerns you have.

Finally, keep the lines of communication open with your child. Ask open ended questions, listen and observe.